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National landslide hazards mitigation strategy - A framework for loss reduction

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Author(s): Elliott C. Spiker, Paula L. Gori

Document Type: Circular 1244
Publisher: United States Geological Survey
Published Year: 2003
Pages: 64
DOI Identifier:
ISBN Identifier:

This circular outlines the key elements of a comprehensive and effective national strategy for reducing losses from landslides nationwide and provides an assessment of the status, needs, and associated costs of this strategy. The circular is submitted in compliance with a directive of Public Law 106–113 (see preface). A broad spectrum of expert opinion was sought in developing this strategy report, as requested by the U.S. Congress in House Report 106–222.

The strategy was developed in response to the rising costs resulting from landslide hazards in the United States and includes activities at the National, State, and local levels, in both the public and private sectors. The strategy gives the Federal Government a prominent role in efforts to reduce losses due to landslide hazards, in partnership with State and local governments. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has taken the lead in developing the strategy on behalf of the large multisector, multiagency stakeholder group involved in landslide hazards mitigation. The USGS derives its leadership role in landslide hazard-related work from the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (Stafford Act). For example, the Director of the USGS has been delegated the responsibility to issue disaster warnings for an earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, or other geologic catastrophe (1974 Disaster Relief Act 42 U.S.C. 5201 et seq).

The National Landslide Hazards Mitigation Strategy includes developing new partnerships among government at all levels, academia, and the private sector and expanding landslide research, mapping, assessment, real-time monitoring, forecasting, information management and dissemination, mitigation tools, and emergency preparedness and response. Such a strategy uses new technological advances, enlists the expertise associated with other related hazards such as floods, earthquakes and volcanic activity, and utilizes incentives for the adoption of loss reduction measures nationwide.

The strategy envisions a society that is fully aware of landslide hazards and routinely takes action to reduce both the risks and costs associated with those hazards. The long-term mission of a comprehensive landslide hazard mitigation strategy is to provide and encourage the use of scientific information, maps, methodology, and guidance for emergency management, land-use planning, and development and implementation of public and private policy to reduce losses from landslides and other ground-failure hazards nationwide. The 10-year goal is to substantially reduce the risk of loss of life, injuries, economic costs, and destruction of natural and cultural resources that result from landslides and other ground-failure hazards.

This comprehensive National Landslide Hazards Mitigation Strategy employs a wide range of scientific, planning, and policy tools to address various aspects of the problem to effectively reduce losses from landslides and other ground failures. It has the following nine major elements, spanning a continuum from research to the formulation and implementation of policy and mitigation:

In each of the above nine elements above, the USGS has a significant role; however, the USGS is not the lead for all elements.

Landslide hazards mitigation requires collaboration among academia, government, and the private sector. Aggressive implementation of a comprehensive and effective national landslide hazards mitigation strategy requires increased investment in landslide hazard research, mapping and monitoring, and mitigation activities. Reducing losses from landslide hazards can be accomplished in part by expanding the existing USGS Landslide Hazard Program, as follows:

Total new funding required for full implementation of the National Landslide Hazards Mitigation Strategy within the USGS is estimated to be approximately $20 million annually.

An effective National Landslide Hazards Mitigation Strategy also depends on stronger partnerships among Federal, State, and local governments and the private sector in the areas of hazard assessments, monitoring, and emergency response and recovery. The strategy recommended in this circular advocates enhanced coordination among Federal, State, and local agencies to partner effectively with the academic and the private sectors and to leverage shared resources under the leadership of the USGS.

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Suggested Citations:
In Text Citation:
Spiker and Gori (2003) or (Spiker and Gori, 2003)

References Citation:
Spiker, E.C. and P.L. Gori, 2003, National landslide hazards mitigation strategy - A framework for loss reduction: Circular 1244, United States Geological Survey, 64 p..